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Surviving a Disaster
How will you respond to a fire or natural disaster? Some people freeze and do nothing. Others refuse to believe its seriousness in the important moments after it happens or it begins.
- When fire strikes, people who have taken part in fire drills are more likely to survive, especially if the fire is in a large building. Just knowing where the stairs are can be an advantage.
In the Twin Towers, Rick Rescorla of Morgan Stanley security insisted on fire drills from their 73rd floor offices. People didn’t like them, but on Sept. 11 he was able to lead his people out.
When fire broke out in the Beverly Hills Supper Club near Cincinnati, most of those inside continued to sip their drinks even as they were warned to leave. Club employees did what they could to move people out, but 168 died. Always consider an exit plan. Use it.
- When it comes to a natural disaster, preparing for the kinds that could strike your area is basic. Leadership can fall to you, so be prepared with a plan. Urge people to go to a shelter when a flood, tornado or hurricane is predicted.
- On board a ship or ferry, listen carefully to emergency instructions. Know how to put on your life jacket and know more than one way from your stateroom to the upper deck. Sometimes, passengers refuse to believe a ship is sinking and do nothing.
- Most airplane crashes are survivable. Listen to the safety instructions so you get out as quickly as possible in an emergency. Stewardesses are now told to shout, “Get out! Get out!”
The best way to improve your performance in an emergency is to practice. If you live in a tall building, take the stairs occasionally so you know how to do it. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, have a suitcase ready and make a plan for evacuating.
Read The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why by Amanda Ripley.